New Zealand's government has begun rolling-out a new national drug formulary, which it says will be a "true one-stop-shop covering clinical information as well as classification and subsidy status" on medicines.

"Whether prescribing, dispensing or administering a medicine, the New Zealand Medicines Formulary (NZMF) will be the first reference resource for health professionals wanting information on those medicines," said Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, announcing the Formulary's roll-out this week.

The new resource will provide concise, independent, evidence-based medicines information and guidance on best practice, and will be available in all service areas, said Mr Dunne. "This will result in better and more consistent decision-making about how medicines are used to benefit New Zealand patients," he added.

The Formulary will be continuously updated, accessible online and on portable devices and, over time, will be fully integrated with the e-health environment, including prescribing and dispensing software.

A core component of the NZMF will be providing the British National Formulary (BNF), the BNF for Children and other licensed information, including Stockley's Interaction Alerts. The UK content and ongoing updates will be modified to suit the New Zealand environment.

Mr Dunne said that one of the key reasons why, in 2008, he had pursued the securing of NZ$2.2 million in budget funding for investing in the medicines sector "so vigorously" was because of the "consistent feedback I was receiving from health professionals about the lack of a robust first reference source on medicines for health professionals across various disciplines."

The NZMF Project Steering Group has selected a partnership between the Best Practice Advocacy Centre New Zealand (BPACnz), Best Practice Advocacy Centre Inc (BPACinc) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as the preferred supplier.

The Formulary is expected to be rolled out across the sector within 12 months.

- In May 2020, as the foundation of the Formulary, the government launched the New Zealand Universal List of Medicines (NZULM), to counter the problems presented by the several different lists and schedules used to provide information on what medicines are approved for use in New Zealand, those which are subsidised by the government and which are dispensed to patients.

The Formulary builds on the NZULM by adding clinical information to create an electronic clinical decision support tool.